On the easiest days, being the mother of young, extremely active, twin boys is an endurance test. At least it is for me. If I attempt to stay indoors with them to get some work done for more than a couple hours, I am up and down the stairs, over and over, bouncing from my desk to their playroom to the kitchen, helping place furniture and quilts for forts, fetching snacks and settling fights before they get too physical. (As a policy, I don't mind if a couple fists fly. My boys are the same size. I just don't want to have to go to urgent care. Who has time for that?) The bottom line is, my boys like to do and they like to go. That's just the way it is.
So most of our summer days together have been spent either on vacation or out and about. We are happily a mere 20 minute drive from the Pacific Ocean so we've spent many days jumping in the waves. To be clear, by "we", I mean "they". When it's a beach day, with certain exceptions, you can typically find me firmly planted here:
Except when I'm preparing snacks, packing, driving, unloading, setting up, sun-screening, wiping sand from eyes, retrieving boogie boards, squeezing the boys into their wet suits, serving snacks, helping dig holes "just a little bit deeper", removing sand from snacks, peeling the boys out of their wet suits, re-sun-screening, re-packing, driving some more, and finally unloading again, once we've returned home safely from our lazy summer day.
But I'm not complaining. I swear I'm not. Endurance test aside, it's been an amazing summer. Now the first day of school is fast approaching and the very thought of it has been breaking my heart. These boys of mine just keep getting bigger and bigger. How do I press pause? Just for a little while.
Enter Hurricane Harbor.
"I have an idea to celebrate the last week of summer before second grade starts!" I could hear my friend Sherry's beaming smile through the phone line. For the record, Sherry is one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous souls I have encountered. Like, I-want-to-stab-myself levels of sweetness at times. And that shit is real. I didn't think it was at first but I've spent enough time with her to know that what you see is what you get with Sherry, and what you get is a lot.
"Of course you do. What's your idea, Sherry?" I asked.
This is Sherry who also birthed the idea of taking our kids out of school for a day trip to San Diego's Seaworld (300+ miles round trip) to celebrate the last month of Kindergarten.
"Hurricane Harbor!!!" She says it just like that. You can literally see the exclamation points, and there are about a baker's dozen after almost everything she says.
"What is that?" I asked.
"A water-slide park!!! Won't that be AWESOME?!? Won't the boys love it?!?"
"Of course they'll love it. They're maniacal seven years olds."
Sherry has a seven-year old and a five-year old. The five year-old is equally maniacal but smaller and therefore cuter and easier to forgive when he's whining and antagonizing the older kids on car trips that last longer than five minutes.
"So let's do it!!!!!!!!"
I said yes. And to be honest, I didn't even hesitate a little because my children love Sherry. All children do. Most adults do, too. And I love her, too. Except when I am PMSing really bad. When I am PMSing really bad, I still love her but that love is buried way deep down inside. On the surface, I just nod my head and try to smile. If I can't do that, I walk away in case I am tempted to say something not so sweet… about stabbing myself...or her. The bottom line is if you look up "Fun Mom" in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Sherry. After almost two years of being around her now, I'd like to think some of that fun factor has rubbed off on me.
Yesterday was the big day. Our friend Leah came, too. Leah is really more Sherry's friend (that's pretty much the case with all my "friends" at my sons' school). Leah is great. Very chill. Another terrific mom. She also has a soon-to-be second grader and a soon-to-be Kindergartener. More boys!
We caravanned the 40 miles to the park from my house. Traffic was light as were the crowds. This signaled that school was already in session for lots of kids in Southern California. We lubed up with sun block, crammed all of our stuff into a "family" size locker and were off to our first slide in our bikinis, baseball hats, sunglasses and flip-flops. Collectively, we represented the very essence of what it means to be WT.
Somewhere along the way, the group fragmented and Leah and I found ourselves in line together, talking small. She started.
"I don't know. I am so grateful to have had the time with them but I'm getting a little tired of being the entertainment coordinator every day. I'm ready to get back to some structure, to have them in school so I can get back to work and just my stuff, ya know?" To be honest, Leah kind of bugs me not only because she is five years younger than me, has a rockin' body, and long, wavy, blonde hair. It's pretty much the same color as mine but mine is the opposite of long and wavy. But because in that moment, she proved that she's not just beautiful, friendly and a great mom, she's normal and genuine, too. Ugh.
"Yeah. I guess I don't know if I'm ready yet."
I was feeling kind of melancholy about summer ending that day. Jeff and I woke the boys up together and surprised them with the news that I would be taking them to a water park with their favorite friends. They were so excited. Their cute little bed heads and sleepy eyes were now capped off with the biggest, brightest smiles. Then they raced down to eat breakfast and back up to brush their teeth and put their swim trunks on so they could practice their piano before we left. They were bringing their A game that day. How could I not be thinking wistfully about all of our summer days together?
The final ride of the day was a "big kid" ride. The Tornado. It is filed under Thrill Rides on the Hurricane Harbor website. Sherry took the two little ones while Leah and I took the four seven-year olds. The line didn't seem long when we stepped into it but between the 103 degree heat and every boy but one breaking down into tears because his eyes hurt (Hmm...A day of swimming in a cocktail of urine, chlorine, sunscreen and perspiration…Wonder why?), it felt a little bit like eternity. And of course, my sons threw a few blows at one another for good measure. Somehow, during all of that, I didn't fully grasp what the Tornado had in store for us until we arrived at the front of the line.
"Ok, how big is your group?" The ride attendant asked.
"Well, we're six," Leah responded.
"Are you going to go three and three?"
Then Leah, to the boys: "Does anyone want to ride with me and Wyatt?"
Wyatt is Leah's son. Yes, she even picked a bad ass name for her son. All I can think of is Wyatt Earp when I'm around this kid.
"No." The rest of the boys said in unison. After all the tears, I wasn't up for the speech about splitting up two and two so everyone could have a friend. Leah wasn't up for it either.
"It's just the two of us," Leah told the ride attendant.
"Any couples or people riding alone?" The ride attendant yelled. "Groups of two or people riding alone?" She was canvassing the line for a body or two to add to Leah's raft.
The hand of a somewhat overweight, young man in a black t-shirt shot up from the back of the line. "I'm alone!"
Now I feel bad. I thought to myself but only for an instant because a giant, square, yellow raft with four holes was thrust toward Leah. Now the young man and Leah were off, carrying their raft together with Wyatt following behind. Strangers one second and in the next second: a team. The water park really brings people together.
I was watching them walk away when,
"Ma'am, your raft!"
I hate "ma'am".
"Oh!" I literally turned into my giant, yellow raft. My "team", a.k.a. three underweight, seven-year olds who barely made the 48" requirement to go on the ride, stood by and watched as I grabbed the two blue, top handles and attempted to elevate the raft even a centimeter from the ground, which I did, for a full two seconds.
What am I going to do? I can't lift this thing.
"Vince, help mommy."
Vince tried to grab two of the blue handles on the side and lift. Of course, to no avail.
"I can't mommy."
This raft will not beat me. I am not NOT riding this stupid ride because I can't lift this stupid raft.
And so I began to "roll" the square raft, side onto side, across the ground in front of the line. I stopped.
Where am I supposed to bring this thing?
Suddenly Sherry was in front of me.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"We came to take pictures."
Of course you did.
Sherry and the two little ones were walking up a handful of steps to a short bridge. The bridge not only served as my gateway to hell but also as a lookout for lazy voyeurs who were too smart to strap a two-ton raft to their back and go anywhere. They were all staring into the "eye of the storm", watching ride goers get sloshed around and finally out of the enormous funnel measuring 60 foot in diameter for which The Tornado was named. I managed to continue to roll the raft, side onto side, without too much trouble, up the steps and across the bridge. I mean sure I rolled it into a few people, including a little girl, but as far as I'm concerned, they ALL had it coming.
At the other end of the bridge, lay the beginning of the end.
"Just keep going, boys!" I yelled to all of them. I knew if I paused to absorb the full measure of the seemingly unending set of concrete stairs that zig-zagged up through the blue summer sky above me, I would run. I would run far and I would run fast; abandoning both raft and children.
Climbing the first flight of stairs was awkward. The raft kept tipping from one side to the next.
We finally made it to the first landing and started up the next.
Stair after stair after stair after stair…I was sweating and completely out of breath as the boys ran up and down the stairs beside me.
"Get out of the way, guys. I don't want this thing to fall on you."
I can not believe I am doing this right now. I can not freakin' believe I am doing this right now. They didn't need to go to a water park. They’ve had the summer of their lives. A week at the lake with friends. The beach house for a week with their Nana. Shit, they did five days in Phoenix with their grandpa back in June. Now that I'm thinking about it, they went to a freakin' water park with him. I don't think my parents EVER brought me to a water park and they've been to two in one summer. Have I lost my mind?
I came to this sudden realization when I was pushing and panting and panting and pushing and making zero progress on the fifth flight of stairs.
Is this thing getting heavier? Is that possible? My arms are so weak. I bet Leah pulled this thing up, no problem. She does that pole-dancing work out class. Plus she had that kid in the black t-shirt to help. I bet he was strong.
"Guys, one of you get behind and push, I'm going to pull from above."
Miller, Sherry's son, got behind the raft as I positioned myself above, pulling on the raft. It was going nowhere. I looked above the raft and saw it was stuck behind a big metal bar; probably some kind of safety reinforcement. I silently cursed the building inspector who surely demanded this strange addition to the overdone stair case as I looked down and my eyes met poor Miller's.
"Mith Lith?" Read: Miss Liz? Miller has like two teeth in his mouth right now and neither are anywhere near the front.
"Yes, Miller." I huffed, trying not to sound annoyed. This whole thing certainly wasn't his idea.
"Ith thith gonna fall on me?"
He had a point.
"It's not going to fall on you. You did great; now move. I'll take it from here."
I made my way back down to the tail end of the raft and somehow shimmied it out from under the gratuitous support bar without squashing any kids. By this time, another group was right on our heels with their raft. It was three teenage girls.
"Ma'am, should we just go by?"
The boys looked scared at this point but I didn't care. We pressed on. I allowed myself to look up from the next platform. Only one flight left and we would be at the top.
"Come on, guys. Almost there."
When we got to the top, I mad -dogged the attendant. He was just standing there, doing nothing. NOTHING. Just standing there in the shade of his ride, waiting for his next group of victims.
"This better be fun." I half-dropped-half-shoved the raft toward him. My arms fell limp at my sides.
He looked up and smiled at me as he pulled our raft into position at the top of the ride.
"Huh-huh. What? Was it a long line? Huh-huh."
"No, it was long climb. This dingy weighs more than all of us combined." Beavis.
"Huh-huh. It's fun."
I slowly climbed aboard the raft, shoving my ass into the fourth hole. The boys' little bottoms were already nestled into theirs. I looked across the raft at Miller. With Sherry as his mother, he certainly wasn't accustomed to this level of negative energy but he seemed ok.
"Are you ready?" The mouth-breathing attendant couldn't get rid of us fast enough.
"I don't want to be backwards! I don't want to be backwards!"
"It will turn, Vince. Hang on!"
After a seven story drop (that's right, I carried, ok, technically I pushed that thing SEVEN FUCKING STORIES), our raft entered the giant funnel and,
We were spit out into a small pool.
We all hopped off the raft.
I should just leave this thing here. What do I care? The attendant down here isn't doing anything either. He can pull it in.
Then I saw Leah standing with Wyatt and her raft, waiting for us. Her plus-one had apparently taken off for Taboo Tower.
Fine, I'll roll it back to the line out front.
I grabbed the raft and attempted to pull it when:
The toe separators (or whatever the hell you call them) on both of my rubber Havaianas simultaneously popped out. I was now attempting to drag both the raft and my freakin' flip-flops which were now hanging onto my ankles for dear life, through the shallow pool.
"Did you have fun?" Leah was all smiles as I finally rolled the raft up on its side and got to the business of fixing my flip-flops.
"You know what I said earlier?" I gasped for air. "About not being ready for the boys to go back to school?" I gasped again. "Forget it!" Smaller gasp this time. "I am soooo freakin' ready!"
|My two are serving as bookends to the over-indulged water park crew.|